PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The home team is down one run, there's a runner in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the batter knocks a routine grounder to second base. Devastating.
Until said grounder takes a wicked hop and handcuffs the second baseman, leading to the tying run crossing the plate and amazement on the faces in the crowd.
That's the situation Charlotte Stone Crabs outfielder John Matulia found himself in when he knocked in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning tonight, continuing the game long enough for the Stone Crabs to snatch a 2-1 extra-innings victory over the Sarasota Reds for a three-game series sweep on Tuesday night at Charlotte Sports Park.
The Crabs eventually picked up the win when Matt Hall knocked a single to left field with Matulia on second base and took a wide turn at first base, leading to a wild throw from Reds third baseman Jose Gualdron over the second baseman's head. Matulia strolled home to score the winning run, completing his heroics for the night.
Charlotte starter Jesse Darcy tossed a gem but his offense gave him no support. He gave up just one run on five hits in seven innings of work and retired 10 batters in a row at one point.
Darcy gave up his only run in the top of the sixth when Shane Carlson ledoff with a single, stole second base and then scored on a two-out single from Denis Phipps up the middle.
Tommy Rafferty threw three scoreless innings of relief to keep Charlotte in the game and eventually gave way to Austin Hinkle who pitched two innings and got his second win of the season.
After going a combined 13-for-31 with RISP in their last three games, Charlotte only managed a 2-for-10 effort with RISP in the series finale against the Reds. Christian Lopez continued his seven-game hitting streak with a single in five at bats.
In sprinkler system news -- to break the tension in the bottom of the tenth inning, the sprinklers claimed center stage to divert attention from the winning run on second base with two outs. The distraction proved too much for Reid Fronk, who flew out to end the inning. All-in-all, the "shower" caused a four-minute delay.
The Stone Crabs (5-7) head out on a six-game road trip tomorrow starting with a three-game set against the Jupiter Hammerheads at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow. Southpaw Darin Downs (7-4, 2.15) will start for Charlotte and broadcaster Grant McAuley will be on the call via stonecrabsbaseball.com.
The team returns to Charlotte Sports Park next Wednesday, July 15, for a three-game series against the Hammerheads.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.